Connection System for a Railing

A connection system for a hand rail installation has particular applicability in connection with installing a hand rail unit comprising a top rail, a bottom rail and a plurality of balustrades to a pair of mounting posts. The ends of the top rail and the bottom rail are secured to the mounting posts by brackets. In some embodiments, the brackets have a flange-like sleeves and a recess defined by side rails which are engaged by the mounting clips. One support mounting clip employs three outwardly biased retention tabs which engage with a bracket installed over the end of the upper rail. Various top rail and bottom rail bracket configurations are disclosed.

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Description

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims the priority of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/525,470 filed on Aug. 19, 2011, the disclosure of which is incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND

This disclosure relates generally to hand railings which are installed on decks and other residential and commercial-type structures. More particularly, this disclosure relates to devices and methods for installing a hand railing.

The installation of hand railings has long presented a number of challenges. First of all, it is highly advantageous to obtain proper alignment and positioning of the railing and the support posts in an efficient manner. A second significant consideration is to provide an aesthetically pleasing railing system which effectively cosmetically hides the fasteners and associated hardware. A third constraint is to provide a hand railing installation which satisfies the strength and stress integrity requirements of various building codes and safety codes.

It is highly desirable to provide a connection system for a railing which can meet the noted challenges for standard installations, for installations which may require non-perpendicular or non-linear geometries and for installations which require hand railings that accommodate transitions to different height levels, such as steps, stairways and/or multiple levels.

SUMMARY

Briefly stated, a hand rail installation comprises a hand rail unit having a top rail, a bottom rail and a plurality of spaced balustrades secured to the top rail and the bottom rail. A pair of support posts is disposed in upright orientation. An upper post mounting clip is mounted to each of the posts. An upper rail mounting bracket is mounted to each of the opposed ends of the top rail. Each upper rail mounting bracket is engaged by and supported by an upper post mounting clip. A lower rail mounting bracket is slidably received onto each of the opposed ends of the bottom rail. A fastener extends through the lower mounting bracket into each support post.

The top rail has an upper exterior surface defining a profile. The upper rail mounting bracket further comprises a flange-like sleeve complementary to the profile. The upper rail mounting bracket has a metal plate. The metal plate has openings and fasteners are driven through the openings into the top rail. The upper rail mounting bracket further has a recess defined by three walls. The upper post mounting clip comprises three resilient tabs. The tabs are engageable with the sidewalls and receivable in the recess. The bottom rail has an exterior surface defining a profile. The lower rail mounting bracket further comprises a flange-like sleeve complementary to the profile. The lower rail mounting bracket also comprises an offset extension which defines an opening. A fastener extends through the opening into the support post.

An installation for a hand rail assembly comprises a hand rail unit which has a plurality of spaced balustrades, a first rail and a second rail wherein the balustrades are secured between the rails and the first and second rails have opposed ends. An upper bracket is secured to each of a pair of upright support posts by a fastener. A lower bracket is fixed to the underside of the second rail adjacent the opposed ends. A fastener secures the upper mounting bracket to opposed underside end locations of the first rail. A fastener secures a lower bracket to each of the support posts.

In one embodiment, the upper mounting bracket comprises a first panel having a pair of laterally spaced openings and a support projecting perpendicularly from the panel and having an opening. The first panel may have an indicia indicating a center line for a rail.

The upper mounting bracket may further comprise a pair of laterally spaced tabs engageable against the first rail. In another embodiment, the upper mounting bracket comprises a first panel having a pair of laterally spaced openings and a support hinged to the first panel and having at least one opening.

In one embodiment, the lower mounting bracket comprises a pair of generally triangularly shaped plates disposed perpendicularly with respect to each other. Each said plate has an opening.

In another embodiment, the lower mounting bracket comprises a first panel having a pair of openings and a support projecting perpendicularly from the panel and having an opening and a protrusion and a protruding locator projecting from the support and extending into a groove of the second rail. In a third embodiment, the lower mounting bracket comprises a first panel having at least one opening and a support hinged to the first panel having at least one opening.

A hand rail installation also comprises a railing unit and a pair of spaced mounting posts. A connecting balustrade is mounted in upright orientation to each of the support posts by at least two fasteners. A fastener secures the top rail to each of the connecting balustrades and a second fastener secures the bottom rail to each of the connecting balustrades. The fasteners each have a head which forms a counterbore in the connecting balustrade. A plug is inserted into the counterbore.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is an exploded perspective view of a pair of support posts and associated balustrades illustrating a first installation stage for one embodiment of a connection system;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view, partly in schematic, of the support posts and balustrades of FIG. 1 together with a railing unit further illustrating a second installation stage for the connection system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view, partly in exploded form, illustrating a third installation stage for the connection system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4A is an enlarged perspective view of a preferred fastener employed for the connection system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4B is an enlarged perspective view of a preferred plug employed in the connection system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective view of a clip, fasteners and a portion of a support post illustrating a first installation stage for a second embodiment of a connection system;

FIG. 6 is an exploded perspective view of a bracket, fasteners and an upper portion of a railing unit illustrating a second installation stage for the connection system of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is an exploded perspective view of a bracket and a lower rail illustrating a third installation stage for the connection system of FIG. 5;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a railing unit and mounted brackets further illustrating a fourth installation stage for the connection system of FIG. 5;

FIG. 9 is an elevational view, partly in schematic, of support posts and a railing unit with mounted brackets illustrating a fifth installation stage for the connection system of FIG. 5;

FIG. 9A is an enlarged fragmentary view, partly in schematic, of support posts and a railing unit further illustrating the installation stage of FIG. 9;

FIG. 9B is an enlarged exploded fragmentary elevational view of support posts and a railing unit with a mounted bracket further illustrating the installation stage of FIG. 9;

FIG. 10A is an enlarged perspective view of an upper bracket employed in a third embodiment of a connection system for a railing unit;

FIG. 10B is an enlarged perspective view of a second upper bracket employed in the third embodiment of a connection system for a railing unit;

FIG. 10C is an enlarged perspective view of a third upper bracket employed in the third embodiment of a connection system for a railing unit;

FIG. 10D is an enlarged perspective view of a fourth upper bracket employed in the third embodiment of a connection system for a railing unit;

FIG. 11A is an enlarged perspective view of a lower bracket employed in the third embodiment of the connection system for a railing unit;

FIG. 11B is an enlarged perspective view of a second lower bracket employed in the third embodiment of the connection system for a railing unit;

FIG. 11C is an enlarged perspective view of a third lower bracket employed in the third embodiment of the connection system for a railing unit;

FIG. 12 is an exploded perspective view of a portion of a support post and a bracket illustrating a first installation stage for the third embodiment of the connection system for a railing unit;

FIG. 13 is an exploded perspective view of a bracket and a lower portion of a railing unit illustrating a second installation stage for the connection system for a railing unit of FIG. 12;

FIG. 14A is a side elevational view, partly exploded, of support posts, mounting brackets and a railing unit illustrating a third installation stage for the connection system for the railing unit of FIG. 12;

FIG. 14B is a side elevational view, partly exploded, of support posts, mounting brackets and a railing unit illustrating a fourth installation stage for the connection system for the railing unit of FIG. 12;

FIG. 14C is a perspective elevational view, partly exploded, of support posts, mounting brackets and a railing unit illustrating a fourth installation stage for the connection system for the railing unit of FIG. 12;

FIG. 15A is a side elevational view, partly exploded, of support posts, mounting brackets and a railing unit further illustrating a fifth installation stage for the connection system for the railing unit of FIG. 12;

FIG. 15B is an enlarged fragmentary perspective view, partly exploded, of a support post, a mounting bracket, fasteners, and a portion of the railing unit further illustrating the installation stage of FIG. 15A; and

FIG. 15C is an enlarged fragmentary perspective view, partly exploded, of a support post, a mounting bracket, fasteners and a portion of the railing unit further illustrating the installation stage for the connection system for the railing unit of FIG. 15A.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

With reference to the drawings wherein like numerals represent like parts throughout the several figures, a representative railing unit for which several embodiments of a connection system are employed in installing the railing unit is designated generally by the numeral 10. The railing unit comprises a plurality of longitudinally spaced parallel balusters 12 which are secured in position by attachment to an elongated top rail 14 and a parallel elongated bottom rail 16. It will be appreciated that the balusters 12, the top rail 14 and the bottom rail 16 may have various forms and configurations, and railing unit 10 is intended to be exemplary of and representative of various possible embodiments.

Railing unit 10 mounts to upright support posts designated generally by the numeral 20. The support posts 20 may also assume various configurations, and the support posts 20 are intended to be exemplary or representative of various possible embodiments.

Various connection systems are employed to install the railing unit 10 so that it is firmly and rigidly secured to the support posts 20. It will be appreciated that typically, there will be multiple railing units 10 and a multiplicity of support posts 20. The various disclosed connection systems will be described with respect to a single railing unit 10 and a pair of support posts 20. It will be appreciated that the connection systems are easily and efficiently implemented, present a pleasing aesthetic appearance and provide a high degree of structural integrity.

One connection system involves various installation stages designated generally by the numeral 100 and a letter and is illustrated in FIGS. 1-3. A second connection system embodiment involves various installation stages designated generally by the numeral 200 and a letter and is illustrated in FIGS. 5-9. A third connection system embodiment involves various installation stages designated generally by the numeral 300 and a letter and is illustrated in FIGS. 12-15. It will be understood that for purposes of description, each of the connection system embodiments 100, 200, 300 are illustrated in conjunction with essentially the same railing unit 10 and the same support post 20. Typically, the railing unit 10 and the support post 20 are wood products, although other materials may also be suitable. The connection systems are also applicable to non-standard railing geometries which involve non-perpendicular angles and multi-level railing configurations.

With reference to FIGS. 1-3, connection system 100 involves connecting balusters 13 which are preferably initially separate from the railing unit 10. Balusters 13 are similar in shape and dimensions to balusters 12 and may be conceptionalized as an extreme end baluster of the railing unit 10. Each connecting baluster 13 includes longitudinally (vertically when installed) spaced sets of predrilled bores 30, 32.

The connecting balusters 13 are each attached in an upright opposed orientation to each of the support posts 20 with 3-4 fasteners 40 which are secured through bores 30. With reference to FIGS. 4A and 4B, the fasteners 40 are preferably Cortex® hidden deck screws manufactured and marketed by OMG, Inc., of Agawam, Mass. Plugs 44 (FIG. 4B) are installed over the fastener heads to present a smooth finished appearance. The plugs 44 are also preferably Cortex® plugs manufactured and marketed by OMG, Inc., of Agawam, Mass. and described in U.S. Pat. No. 8,104,248. Other fasteners and plugs can also be used.

The top rail 14 of the completed hand rail assembly 10 is suspended atop the mounted balusters 13 and the bottom rail 16 is rotated into place, as best illustrated in FIG. 2. A fastener 42 is installed through a bore 32, into the interior strip of the top rail of the baluster joint, and a fastener 42 is installed through a bore 32 into the interior strip of the bottom rail 16 of the baluster joint, as best illustrated in FIG. 3. Plugs 44 are inserted at the end of the bores over the fastener heads to provide a finished appearance.

In an alternative connection system, the post mounted balusters 13 are installed to the posts 20 as previously described. However, the top rail cover 15 is left off or removed during the initial assembly. The remaining components of the rail unit are rotated into position. A fastener is installed vertically down through the top rail and into the previously mounted baluster 13. The rail is covered by the top rail cover 15 and fastened into place from underneath between the previously installed baluster 13. The bottom rail/baluster connection is completed, as previously described.

With reference to FIGS. 5-9B, connection system 200 employs three connection components 50, 60 and 70. Component 50 (FIG. 5) is an upper post mounting clip which is preferably formed of metal. The upper post mounting clip 50 is fixed to the support post 20 with two fasteners 46 which are inserted and driven through openings 51 of mounting plate 52, as best illustrated in FIG. 5. The bracket 50 has three outwardly biased retention tabs 54, 56 and 58 which integrally extend from the plate 52.

Component 60 (FIG. 6) is an upper rail mounting bracket which is formed from plastic and is configured to accept a metal mounting plate 62. Component 60 also has a receiving recess 64 defined by three sidewalls 65, 67 and 69 which are complementarily configured to be engaged by the outwardly biased retention tabs 54, 56 and 58, respectively, of the support post clip 50. In some embodiments, the sidewalls form retaining grooves which receive and retain the ends of the tabs.

The upper rail mounting bracket 60 has a forward flange-like sleeve 66 which is inwardly complementary in shape to the exterior longitudinal surface or sectional profile of the top rail 14. The sleeve 66 is installed over each end of the top rail 14 and secured by three fasteners 46 driven through openings 61, 63 of the plate 62 and the bracket 60. The fastener heads engage the metal plate 62.

It should be appreciated that in some embodiments, the component 60/mounting plate 62 is an integrated one-piece configuration wherein component 60 is overmolded to retain the metal mounting plate 62. In other alternatives, the metal mounting plate 62 is essentially not required, and the upper rail mounting bracket essentially comprises a one-piece plastic component defining the recess 64 and sidewalls 65, 67 and 69 and having a sleeve-like portion which is complementary to the exterior profile of the rail and is closely received and mounted over the end of the rail 14.

The lower rail mounting bracket 70 (FIG. 7) has a sleeve 76 configured to be complementary to the exterior profile of the bottom rail 16 and has an offset extension 72 with an opening 74. The bracket 70 is slid onto the bottom rail 16 in a force-fit-type engagement. Bracket 70 also has a medial panel 78 with an opening 79. A fastener may be driven through opening 79 into the end of the bottom rail to secure the bracket 70 to the rail 16. The lower rail mounting bracket 70 is preferably formed from plastic.

For connection system 200, the top and bottom rail pieces are preferably cut ½ inch shorter than the typical span between the mounting posts 20 to accommodate the dimensional constraints presented by the brackets 60 and 70.

The entire rail unit 10 with the opposed pairs of mounted brackets 60 and 70, as best illustrated in FIGS. 8-9, is then dropped into place between support posts 20. Each upper rail mounting bracket 60 nests onto and is supported on the upper post mounting clip 50 and engaged by tabs 54, 56 and 58 (see FIG. 9A). The tabs 54, 56 and 58 resiliently engage the sidewalls 65, 67 and 69, respectively, of the bracket 60. The lower bracket 70 essentially self locates adjacent the support post 20. Each lower mounting bracket 70 is then attached to each of the posts 20 by a fastener 46 secured through opening 74, as illustrated in FIG. 9B.

It will be appreciated that the mounting brackets 60 and 70 may be modified to accommodate non-standard angled configurations, such as may occur on an octagon-shaped deck, for example, or multi-level railing configurations, such as may occur for stairways or for multi-level applications. For such applications, the upper mounting clip can be modified by a medial angle section to extend the forward receiving cavity and to angle same relative to the sleeve 66 at the appropriate angle. The lower mounting bracket may also be extended forwardly and include a medial angle section oriented at the appropriate angle.

With reference to FIGS. 12-15C, connection system 300 employs an upper mounting bracket 80, 82, 84 or 86 as illustrated in FIGS. 10A, 10B, 10C and 10D, respectively, and a lower mounting bracket 90, 92 or 94, as illustrated in FIGS. 11A, 11B and 11C, respectively. Other mounting bracket configurations are also possible.

With reference to FIG. 10A, the upper bracket 80 has three openings 102 for attachment to the support post 30. A medial tapered support shelf 104 extends perpendicularly from reinforced side mounting structures 106. The shelf 104 has an opening 108 for receiving a fastener driven into the underside of the upper rail 14.

The selected upper bracket 80, 82, 84 or 88 is mounted to the upper side portion of the upright post 20 with fasteners inserted through openings, as best illustrated in FIG. 12.

With reference to FIG. 10B, upper post mounting bracket 82 forms a tongue-like shelf 120 with a central opening 122 which integrally extends perpendicularly in compound folded fashion from a mounting plate 124 with a pair of openings 126. A lower double-reinforced portion includes an opening 128. Openings 126 and 128 receive a fastener for securing the bracket to a support post 20.

With reference to FIG. 10C, upper mounting bracket 84 has a bent metal form with an outwardly projecting platform 130. The platform includes a pair of openings 131 which allow the bracket to be fastened to the underside of the top rail 14. A mounting plate 134 includes a centerline 136 which is embossed or displayed on the plate. Spaced openings 135 receive fasteners for securing the bracket to the support post. The bracket also includes opposed tabs 138 for engaging the underside channel of the received top rail 14. Pairs of vertical side flanges 137 and lower flanges 137 facilitate positioning of the rail 14 relative to the post 20 and also allow the fasteners to be generally hidden.

With reference to FIG. 10D, upper mounting bracket 86 has a hinged design. The forwardly projecting connecting plate 140 has a pair of openings 141 to receive fasteners for attaching the plate 140 to the underside of the upper rail. A rear mounting plate 142 includes openings 143 for receiving fasteners which mount the plate 142 against the post 20. A hinge 146 connects the mounting plate 142 and the connecting plate 140 so that various angles may be accommodated such as, for example, for a stairway or step railing.

With reference to FIG. 11A, the lower clip 90 comprises a pair of perpendicular generally triangular plates 110 and 112. Plate 110 has an opening 111 for fastening the plate 110 to the underside of the lower rail 16. Plate 112 has an opening 113 for fastening the plate 110 to the post 20.

With reference to FIG. 11 B, lower mounting bracket 92 includes a post mounting plate 150 and a lower rail connecting plate 152 which are joined at a bend to form substantially right angle. Mounting plate 152 includes a pair of openings 151 for securing the bracket to the support post. Connecting plate 152 includes a pair of openings 153 for securing the bracket to the underside of the bottom rail. The connecting plate also includes a protruding locator 158 which fits and is complementary to a portion of the channel 17 of the bottom rail 16, as best illustrated in FIG. 13.

With reference to FIG. 11C, lower mounding bracket 94 includes a post mounting plate 160 and a rail connecting plate 162 which are hinged together by a hinge 164 which allows for a variation in the effective angle between the support post 20 and the railing unit 10. Plate 160 includes openings 161 for receiving fasteners to secure the plate 160 to a support post 20. Plate 162 includes openings 163 which are adapted to receive fasteners for connecting the underside of the bottom rail 16. Lower mounting bracket 94 can be employed for applications such as step or stairway applications where the rail unit 10 will be oriented at an acute angle with respect to the mounting post 20.

With reference to FIG. 12, an upper bracket (bracket 84 as shown) is mounted to post 20 by fasteners 46. Other upper brackets such as brackets 80, 82 or 86 may be employed.

The fully assembled rail unit 10 is then dropped onto the upper mounting bracket, as best illustrated in FIG. 14B (for upper bracket 84). A lower bracket 90, 92 or 94 is mounted at each end of the underside of the lower rail 16 by driving fasteners through an opening, as best illustrated in FIGS. 13 and 14A (for bracket 92). The upper mount is fastened to both ends of the top rail with a long fastener 48. The lower bracket is fixed to the post by driving fasteners 48 through an opening under the rail 16, as best illustrated in FIG. 15C.

While preferred embodiments have been set forth for purposes of illustration, the foregoing description should not be deemed a limitation of the invention herein. Accordingly, various modifications, adaptations and alternatives may occur to one skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and the scope of the invention herein.

Claims

1. A hand rail installation comprising:

a hand rail unit comprising a top rail, a bottom rail and a plurality of spaced balustrades secured to said top rail and said bottom rail, said top rail and bottom rail having opposed ends;
a pair of support posts disposed in upright orientation;
an upper post mounting clip mounted to each said post;
an upper rail mounting bracket mounted to each of the opposed ends of said top rail, each said upper rail mounting bracket being engaged by and supported by an upper post mounting clip;
a lower rail mounting bracket slidably received onto each of the opposed ends of the bottom rail; and
a fastener extending through said lower mounting bracket into each said support post.

2. The hand rail installation of claim 1 wherein top rail has an exterior surface defining a profile and said upper rail mounting bracket further comprises a flange-like sleeve complementary to said profile.

3. The hand rail installation of claim 1 wherein said upper rail mounting bracket further has a recess defined by three walls.

4. The hand rail installation of claim 3 wherein said upper post mounting clip further comprises three resilient tabs, said tabs engageable with said sidewalls and receivable in said recess.

5. The hand rail installation of claim 1 wherein said upper rail mounting bracket has a metal plate, said metal plate having openings and fasteners and are driven through said openings into said top rail.

6. The hand rail installation of claim 1 wherein said bottom rail has an exterior surface defining a profile and said lower rail mounting bracket further comprises a flange-like sleeve complementary to said profile.

7. The hand rail installation of claim 1 wherein said lower rail mounting bracket further comprises an offset extension defining an opening, said fastener extending through said opening into said support post.

8. An installation for a hand rail assembly comprising:

a hand rail unit comprising a plurality of spaced balustrades, a first rail and a second rail wherein said balustrades are secured between said rails, said first and second rails having opposed ends;
a pair of upright support posts;
an upper bracket secured to each said support post by a fastener;
a lower bracket fixed to the underside of the second rail adjacent said opposed ends;
a fastener securing said upper mounting bracket to opposed underside end locations of said first rail; and
a fastener securing said lower bracket to each said support post.

9. The installation of claim 8 wherein said upper mounting bracket comprises a first panel having a pair of laterally spaced openings and a shelf projecting perpendicularly from said panel and having an opening.

10. The installation of claim 9 wherein said first panel has indicia indicating a center line.

11. The installation of claim 8 wherein said lower mounting bracket comprises a pair of generally triangular shaped plates disposed perpendicularly with respect to each other and each said plate having an opening therein.

12. The installation of claim 9 wherein said upper mounting bracket further comprises a pair of laterally spaced tabs engageable against said first rail.

13. The installation of claim 8 wherein said upper mounting bracket comprises a first panel having a pair of laterally spaced openings and a support shelf hinged to said first panel and having at least one opening.

14. The installation of claim 8 wherein said lower mounting bracket comprises a first panel having a pair of openings and a support shelf projecting perpendicularly from said panel and having an opening and a protruding locator projecting from said support shelf and extending into a groove of said second rail.

15. The installation of claim 8 wherein said lower mounting bracket comprises a first panel having at least one opening and a support hinged to said first panel and having at least one opening.

16. A hand rail installation comprising:

a railing unit comprising a top rail, a bottom rail and a plurality of spaced balustrades secured by said top rail and said bottom rail;
a pair of spaced upright support posts;
a connecting balustrade mounted in upright orientation to each of said support posts by at least two fasteners; and
a fastener securing said top rail to each of said connecting balustrades and a second fastener securing said bottom rail to each of said connecting balustrades.

17. The hand rail installation of claim 16 wherein said fasteners each have a head which forms a counterbore in a connecting balustrade and a plug is inserted in said counterbore.

Patent History

Publication number: 20130207062
Type: Application
Filed: Aug 17, 2012
Publication Date: Aug 15, 2013
Inventors: Mark Joseph Guthrie (West Springfield, MA), Peter J. Shadwell (Longmeadow, MA)
Application Number: 13/588,599

Classifications

Current U.S. Class: Rail To Post (256/65.02)
International Classification: E04H 17/14 (20060101);